It was six in the morning. The sun’s rays were passing through the bed cover I’d transformed into a curtain, blocking the outside world from prying into my morning ablutions. I could feel a cold coming on. That’s what you get when you spend a lot of time sleeping on the floor. With my eyes groggy and half open, I spied on a cockroach moving on the floor, looking for scraps of food. A mosquito was on the wall, probably the culprit that had turned the previous night into a nightmare. My phone’s alarm rang again. M83’s ‘Midnight city’ is my alarm ringing tone. Those loud notes are more than enough to jostle anyone from the land of the dead. My bed sheets and blankets were all over the mattress I’d just bought the week before (I have weird sleep movements). I stood up, rubbed my eyes and scratched myself in places that cannot be said out loud on paper.
The light was gradually increasing in brightness and intensity. I could feel the sweat in my armpits and between my legs. And I could taste the morning breath on my tongue. It was time to shower. My old laptop was on the floor, on a mat that used to be a prayer rug for some friends of mine who had bequeathed it to me as a parting gift. I had a playlist of songs playing the whole night, from ‘The commodores-Nightshift’ to Beyonce’s ‘Partition’ and ‘Flawless’. A proud feeling rose from the pit of my abdomen and traveled all the way to the middle of my chest. This was my own room, a place I could do anything I wanted, whenever I wanted. I yawned and imagined myself as the lion in charge of a pride of beautiful lionesses.
I no longer stay in a hostel. Two of my classmates and I have struck up an agreement, and we’ve rented an apartment, sharing the costs. We’re closer to the hospital, meaning we can now spend more time in the wards and the casualty department without worrying about the time. It also means that I have more freedom, as I don’t have to adhere to any rules that a hostel manager might impulsively put in place. I have complete autonomy on what to eat, when to eat said food, who to invite to my space, and at what time I can do this.
The strange thing is that I wasn’t really expecting to strike out on my own anytime soon. I always assumed I’d be in a hostel for the rest of my six year course. Now I have a spacious room, without having to expertly manage the egos of roommates from different cultural, social and educational backgrounds. I no longer have to tell someone to go smoke outside. I have my own man cave. It’s not all beds and roses though. There is a lot of money needed. I have a bed and a reading table to purchase. I also have to deal with cooking for the first time in my life. I guess it’s time I started, before I become too old to use youth as an excuse for not knowing how to perform basic household duties.
Contrary to popular expectations, I’m not going crazy over the excess liberty to do whatever it is that I want to do. I have always been given enough rope to hang myself by my mother. I was also lucky to attend a high school that was extremely lax and gave us leeway to wear civilian clothes and move out during the weekends. I have therefore been accustomed to having a lot of freedom, knowing full well that with a lot of freedom comes a lot of responsibility.
Moving into an apartment has shown me that there are many things about being a man that I have yet to figure out. The realization that I can no longer fully depend on my mother for everything has shown me that time is running out. I need to be able to fly on my own two wings sooner rather than later. I’m slowly being ejected from the nest. Soon I will have to start making mine.
The others had already woken up. One of them was making tea in the kitchen. If I remembered correctly, it was my turn to do the dishes. I flipped on the water heater switch and jumped into the shower, with Whitney Houston’s wonderful voice blaring from my room (I have an excellent music playlist). As the hot water jolted me into action, I thought about the future. I thought about a few girls I was interested in getting to know better. I thought about what I really wanted from each of them. I was getting closer to making a decision. I thought about my classes. But mostly I thought about striking out on my own. About the freedom and the weighty responsibilities that awaited me. And then I remembered there was an electricity bill to pay at the end of the month! I quickly turned off the shower and rushed out, ready to confront the day. That’s what men do 🙂